Thoughts As To Shepherding

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” —Psalm 23:1 KJV

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you … all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers … to feed the church of God.” —Acts 20:27-28

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” —1 Peter 5:1-4

“He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” —Isaiah 40:11

The following lines are thoughts shared by an older brother in the Lord who had been given the gift of shepherding. During his decades of caring for the flock of God, he served in a very self-sacrificial way, giving glory to God.

The above opening precious statement of Psalm 23 is essential. He is my possession, ever filling all my needs. It is only then that we receive all the counsels of God.

The charge begins with an exhortation: Take heed to yourselves first and then to all the flock. Be sure to notice this: It is the Holy Spirit who makes us or sets us up as overseers! A note by the well-known Bible scholar J. N. Darby (1800-1882) on shepherds is very vital: “They are to act in this character, or have it by acting!” It is not simply an exhortation to do it, but to acquire that character by doing it – to be so characterized. Be shepherds.

The elders are addressed in 1 Peter 5. They are mature in serving God in the God-given capacity that is according to 1 Corinthians 12, one of the many spiritual gifts that He has bestowed on His redeemed people, “the sheep.” God knows that the sheep need oversight and feeding, with rich up-building while strengthening Christ-likeness. The feeding, or rather the service of it, is not by constraint, but by wholehearted willingness and “of a ready mind.” The passage goes on to warn against human means of dealing with God’s people, instructing elders to be examples to believers, the flock.

The foregoing, may I suggest, is the means to an end, namely to train “the younger.” They are written about in 1 John 2:13-14: “… Young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one … Young men, because ye are strong and the Word of God abides in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” This work must be current and ongoing, to be given up totally and unreservedly in service to the Master, who came not to be served but to serve! Through 1 Peter 5:4, the elders are exhorted to feed the flock of God, taking oversight willingly, being of a ready mind and examples to the flock. But in verse 5, Peter commands, “Ye younger likewise submit unto the elder and both to each other, yes to be subject one to another clothed with humility.”

This is the preparation of a vessel, or servant, called by God to be with the sheep like the shepherd David of old. All of the foregoing has instructions for the welfare of the souls. Isaiah 40:11 speaks of the love and care of God for His people Israel, yet it is very practical and an example to us in relation to families, households and assemblies.

In closing I would just like to refer to Abel and Enoch. Abel was a keeper of sheep. In Genesis 4 we read of Abel’s flock of which God had respect, that is, unto Abel and his offering.

Abel walked with God. Then we read twice in Genesis 5 that Enoch “walked with God” (vv.22,24). “Enoch walked with God and he was not; for God took him.” May we be of like faith – ever walking with God!